WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2021 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Fulbright Program Celebrates 75 Years of Impact
The Fulbright Program celebrated its 75th Anniversary on November 30 with a live event broadcast from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, marking the accomplishments of the past 75 years and looking ahead to the exciting future of the U.S. government’s flagship international academic exchange program.
Speaking to thousands of viewers around the world, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken described the program’s founding in 1946, immediately following World War II. “There was an urgent need to create lasting conditions for peace, to build mutual understanding among nations, to foster goodwill among their people. The Fulbright Program helped answer that need,” Blinken said. “It brings people together through educational and professional exchanges, giving them a chance to learn about other countries and cultures, collaborate on issues of global importance, and create connections that last a lifetime.”
Celebrating Fulbright’s 75 years of impact, Blinken said, “As a diplomat, I love this program because it helps create the space for people to learn from each other and connect across cultural divides, which makes global cooperation possible. . . . The members of the Fulbright community are changemakers. They care deeply about the problems facing our world today, from stopping COVID-19 to countering threats to democracy. And through Fulbright, they help strengthen our world, from classrooms, villages, universities, and cities across the globe.”
The celebration highlighted more than 40 of these changemakers, focusing on five areas where Fulbright has made considerable contributions: science, technology, and public health; education; the environment; public service; and the arts. Guests at the event and the livestream audience heard personal stories and watched performances from some of the Fulbright Program’s most extraordinary alumni, including recent participants as well as those who have had long and distinguished careers.
When the pandemic struck last year, Charlotte Summers, a critical care physician at Cambridge University Hospital in the United Kingdom, took immediate action to treat critically ill patients and became the chief investigator of the UK-wide clinical trial to increase long-term outcomes of patients with COVID-19. With this crucial work, she contributed directly to the UK’s National Health Service’s response. Benjamin tenOever, a prominent U.S. virologist, was an integral part of an international consortium to develop and accelerate vaccines and antivirals. And Jessica Phan, an M.D.-Ph.D. candidate at Harvard Medical School and a National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholar, left early from her Fulbright in Portugal, where she was studying the neurobiology of addiction, to contribute to the fight at home by assisting with COVID-19 testing and analysis in her home community in Los Angeles. Each of these three Fulbright alumni credit their international experiences and Fulbright collaborations as essential to helping them find solutions to complex problems in science and public health.
They are among a growing number of Fulbright alumni around the world who have contributed to scientific innovation and national health responses, serving as testament to the relevance and impact of the program in today’s world, and they were among those who told their powerful stories as part of the Fulbright 75th Anniversary Celebration on Tuesday.
Featured alumni included college president and educational leader Dr. Ruth Simmons; architect and urban designer Daniel Libeskind; Iceland’s Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources Guðmunduringi Guðbrandsson; former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove; former International President of Médecins Sans Frontières James Orbinski; research ecologist Gillian Bowser; biochemist and literacy advocate Rana Dajani; Japan’s Minister of Justice Yoko Kamikawa; former Foreign Minister of Spain and NATO Secretary General Javier Solana; and many others. Journalist and entrepreneur Jonathan Rabb, a Fulbright alumnus and founder of Watch the Yard, was the evening’s host.
They spoke about how Fulbrighters in education shape future generations through teaching, research, and educational leadership; and how Fulbrighters in the environment contribute to environmental policy, advancing research and conservation. Beyond their collaboration with other scientists, they stressed the importance of sharing environmental science with non-scientists and local communities, empowering citizen scientists and inspiring others to safeguard the environment and create a more sustainable future. Fulbrighters in public service work towards positive change to create a more prosperous and peaceful future.
Douglas Emhoff, Second Gentleman of the United States, brought heartfelt congratulations from the President, the First Lady, and the Vice President, noting that the Fulbright Program is a “centerpiece of U.S. public diplomacy.” Remarking on the milestone moment for the nation’s largest and most influential educational exchange program, Emhoff said that its premise is quite simple: “through education, individuals can be empowered to do extraordinary things, and through international exchanges, we can build a foundation for peace.”
Newly confirmed Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Lee Satterfield spoke about the continued importance and impact of the program today, and Renée Fleming, world-renowned operatic soprano and artistic advisor, spoke about her career-launching Fulbright to Germany in 1984.
Paul Winfree, the chair of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, spoke on behalf of presidentially-appointed Board members who have served the program since its inception, and paid tribute to the way Fulbright’s “diverse and dynamic network shares knowledge across communities and borders,” commending the program’s dedicated staff around the world for finding creative ways to navigate the pandemic crisis, expanding the program by creating new partnerships with the National Park Service and the National Archives to develop scholarship related to cultural, historical and environmental conservation.
A special tribute to Fulbrighters in Journalism saluted Fulbright alumni who have been recognized with the highest honors across digital and traditional media, including this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, Pulitzer Prize winner Megha Rajagopalan, and MacArthur Fellowship recipient Daniel Alarcón, as well as prominent journalists Karen Attiah, David Bradley, Barbara Crossette, Meg Greenfield, Doug Mitchell, and Jim Sciutto.
More than 400,000 talented and accomplished students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds have participated in the Fulbright Program since its inception in 1946, including 40 heads of state or government, 61 Nobel Prize Laureates, 75 MacArthur Foundation Fellows, 89 Pulitzer Prize Recipients, and 16 U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients.
Two Members of Congress who were Fulbrighters themselves — Congressman Tom Cole, 5th District of Oklahoma, a 1977 Fulbright U.S. Student to the United Kingdom, and Congressman John Sarbanes, 3rd District of Maryland, a 1984 Fulbright U.S. Student to Greece – were among the Representatives and Senators who spoke about the value of Fulbright Program opportunities to their constituents and the world. Other well-wishers were Senator Patrick Leahy, Vermont; Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 13th District of California; Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota; Senator John Boozman, Arkansas; and Former Congresswoman Nita Lowey, 17th District of New York.
Visit Fulbright75.org to stream the recorded celebration; learn more about the featured alumni; find opportunities to apply to Fulbright Programs for graduate students, scholars, teachers, and professionals; and connect with the Fulbright community.
Daria Roche, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, 1 202-632-3238, [email protected]
SOURCE Fulbright Program